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The Use of Foundational Ontologies in Ontology Development: An Empirical Assessment.

. 8th Extended Semantic Web Conference (ESWC'11), volume 6643 of LNCS, page 321-335. Springer, (2011)Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 29 May-2 June, 2011.

Abstract

There is an assumption that ontology developers will use a top-down approach by using a foundational ontology, because it purportedly speeds up ontology development and improves quality and interoperability of the domain ontology. Informal assessment of these assumptions reveals ambiguous results that are not only open to different interpretations but also such that foundational ontology usage is not foreseen in most methodologies. Therefore, we investigated these assumptions in a controlled experiment. After a lecture about DOLCE, BFO, and part-whole relations, one-third chose to start domain ontology development with an OWLized foundational ontology. On average, those who commenced with a foundational ontology added more new classes and class axioms, and significantly less object properties than those who started from scratch. No ontology contained errors regarding part-of vs. is-a. The comprehensive results show that the `cost' incurred spending time getting acquainted with a foundational ontology compared to starting from scratch was more than made up for in size, understandability, and interoperability already within the limited time frame of the experiment.

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